(Tomato fruitworm)—Helicoverpa zea
The color of this species varies and is not reliable for identification. Older larvae have distinct stripes
along sides and many short, whiskerlike spines over the body surface.
Identification of species | Life cycle
Earworms destroy lettuce seedlings and bore into heads, feed on leaves, buds, flowers, and pods of beans,
eat through kernels of corn, and leave deep watery cavities in fruit.
Handpick. Avoid spraying with insecticides. Bacillus
thuringiensis, a biological insecticide,
may kill 40 to 60% of the population but must be applied
just after eggs hatch and before caterpillars enter
fruit. Spinosad may also be effective. Important natural
enemies of the earworms include Hyposoter and Trichogramma parasites.
General predators also
feed on eggs and larvae. Plant early and harvest before
late August. Disc or rototill
plants immediately after harvest to reduce overwintering
populations and prevent migration to neighboring crops.